Adams may quit, slaps police again

October 2, 2014
Steve Adams

Steve Adams


Embattled Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams said Wednesday he will be leaving his job when he decides the time is right, and leveled a barrage of accusations against his police department’s contract negotiators.

In a verbose statement issued to favored news outlets, Adams asserted officers made false claims against him as a salary negotiating technique. He then repeated his version of a late-night City Hall liaison with a subordinate employee.

Adams said his “resignation” will become effective when a full-time successor is hired, which could take as long as six months, according to city council member Jim Guthrie. When he eventually departs, he will not receive a severance package, he said, because he is leaving “voluntarily.”

The manager has been embroiled in scandal which has in turn created a divisive controversy in the community of 18,000.

On July 3, officers found Adams and Teresa McClish, the city’s community development director, in Adams’ City Hall office. Memorandums written by five officers the night of the incident reported McClish was discovered partially dressed, an apparent violation of city policy.

The officers reported that Adams initially lied when asked if Trish McClish was in the building and instead became angry while questioning why they were looking for her.

Asked by an officer if “Teresa McClish” was in the building, Adams then said yes.

“First, I never lied about Ms. McClish being in the building,” Adams said in the statement. “When I asked why the officers were there, I was twice told they were looking for someone with the name of an employee that until recently worked in City Hall. When one of the officers used Ms. McClish’s correct name, I responded that she was there.”

However, city staff said no employee named Trish McClish existed, although a former employee was named “Trisha.”

Another disagreement between officers and Adams centered around office lighting. Responding police said lights were out in City Hall when they arrived. Adams now claims the lights were on in his office.

(Sworn law enforcement personnel proven dishonest in their official dealings can no longer serve as police officers. The Brady decision requires prosecutors to disclose to the defense previous deceptions by officers.)

Adams also attempted to defuse the missing 80 minutes of security tape captured by city cameras.

Adams said the gap was caused by CalCoastNews because the news agency supplied the wrong size drive.

“The so-called “missing 80 minutes” of tape resulted because the representative of the website that requested the tape submitted a flash drive that was too small to hold the entire file,” Adams says in his statement. “Once they submitted a new flash drive, they received the remainder of the tape. However, these background facts were never reported.”

The actual facts are quite different.

After receiving a request made under the California Public Records Act, City Clerk Kelly Wetmore asked CalCoastNews to provide a 32 GB flash drive, which was done.

When the drive was retrieved by CCN, Wetmore said she had made a mistake about the needed space, and was unable to provide the last six minutes requested. However, in addition to those final six minutes, 80 minutes was missing from the middle of the recording, as were all recordings from “camera six” showing an external view of the rear of Adams’ office.

The missing 80-minute video which was subsequently provided clearly shows lights going on from within a darkened City Hall after officers enter the building.

City officials now claim that “camera six” was inoperative because it could not withstand the elements. No other exterior city camera malfunctioned during the same time frame.

Teresa McClish

Teresa McClish

Angry citizens have suggested a level of hypocrisy in Adams’ behavior in the weeks following the McClish situation. Arroyo Grande taxpayers have funded more than $1.5 million in sexual harassment settlements to former employees. As a result, Adams has insisted on terminating employees discovered to be in a romantic relationship with a subordinate.

Adams’ public statements have only served to fuel community dissension. Spurred by city officials’ failure to properly investigate the alleged violation of city policy, Arroyo Grande police officers earlier this month lodged a formal complaint and a vote of no confidence against Adams and Mayor Tony Ferrara.

Officers have not yet responded to Adams’ latest allegations, though several citizen-led groups are attempting to replace the mayor by promoting Jim Hill as a write in candidate.

Immediately after the incident was first reported by CalCoastNews, Ferrara deflected efforts by council members Tim Brown and Jim Guthrie, both of whom said they wanted to delve more deeply into the issue than had the city’s assistant counsel, Michael McMahon.

Here is the full text of Adams’ statement:

“It is with regret that I announce my plans to step down as city manager with the city of Arroyo Grande. After much deliberation, I have determined that the current events have created too much distraction for me to lead the future of our organization as effectively as I would like. To be involved in something divisive to the community would be the ultimate contradiction of everything I have tried to stand for in bringing the community together during these past 14 years. As a result, my family and I have decided to pursue new opportunities elsewhere. I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate the support I have received from so many kind people in our community.

“My resignation will become effective once my replacement has been hired and starts work. Therefore, I intend to remain in my position throughout the recruitment process in order to ensure a smooth transition and enable me to complete a number of important efforts underway. I will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation. My primary motivation is to serve the best interests of this community that I cherish so much.
I want to emphasize to the community how fortunate it is to have such an amazing mayor and City Council. I have had the distinct honor to work with each of them on a day-to-day basis for many years. I never cease to be amazed at their level of dedication to the entire community. The effort they take to respond to the concerns of every individual that contacts them is extraordinary.

“They took the July 3 incident very seriously, responded quickly, and handled it in the best way possible based on the information they had. Everything was handled consistently with how similar incidents are dealt with involving other staff. An initial review is first completed to identify if any policies are violated and to determine whether a formal investigation is warranted. There seems to be some confusion from people unfamiliar with government procedures who are comparing the situation to an incident involving a potential criminal action or when a formal personnel complaint is filed, neither of which apply in this case.

“There was no so-called “cover-up.” I actually called a meeting of my executive team the first work day following the incident to inform them of what had happened. Personnel matters are not publicized, which is not the same as a cover-up.

“It is reprehensible that negative criticism has been made toward the city attorney’s office. Their level of expertise, hard work, and dedication to effectively protect the city’s and community’s interests day in and day out is something unparalleled to anything I have witnessed anywhere in my career. They handled this incident in that same consistent and professional manner.

“I have also witnessed the city clerk and her staff work tirelessly and with the utmost professionalism to respond to a barrage of public records requests, only to have wild, unfounded insinuations made about altering records and tapes. Our citizens would agree what a travesty this is if they had the opportunity as I do to witness the seriousness with which they take their integrity as it relates to their professional responsibilities. The so-called “missing 80 minutes” of tape resulted because the representative of the website that requested the tape submitted a flash drive that was too small to hold the entire file. Once they submitted a new flash drive, they received the remainder of the tape. However, these background facts were never reported.

“The impact on Ms. McClish’s reputation is an even greater travesty. She has consistently treated everyone she comes in contact with in a kind, professional, and responsive manner. She has served this community with great distinction and does not deserve the meanness that has been directed toward her.

“I have consistently expressed my deepest respect for the important work our officers do in protecting our community. I also fully support the officers that responded to the July 3 incident and early on issued a public apology to them for the uncomfortable position my actions put them in, as well as to the rest of the organization and community. I have never accused any of them of lying, and it has never been my belief that they said anything with the intent of harming me.

“I have tried to focus on my job, stay out of the press, and let the investigation process take its course. However, given the amount of accusations that have been made publicly, I believe I must now speak out to provide clarification regarding some of the statements.

“First, I never lied about Ms. McClish being in the building. When I asked why the officers were there, I was twice told they were looking for someone with the name of an employee that until recently worked in City Hall. When one of the officers used Ms. McClish’s correct name, I responded that she was there. Later reports on a website that they were using her nickname are false, although I acknowledge that they may have thought that was the case.

“Second, the building was reported as being dark, which is an accurate statement given that most the lights were off. However, it is also important to clarify for the public that there are lights at each end of the building that automatically remain on at all times. Therefore, there would be no reason to turn on additional lights in other portions of the building.

“Third, due to the extent of the activity by the officers in the building, our belief was that they could be responding to a serious threat. Therefore, Ms. McClish was standing out of view in response to her fear for her safety.

“Lastly, I continue to confirm my earlier statements that nobody was at any time unclothed or partially clothed.

“With regard to the actions of the Arroyo Grande Police Officers’ Association, I continue to provide them the benefit of the doubt that their motivations are sincere. However, given that they are still not satisfied now that the City Council complied with their request for an outside investigation, I believe it is important that the public be provided pertinent background information regarding the city’s labor relations.

“I will be the first to recognize that I have failed to maintain a positive relationship with the POA. I acknowledge that there were things I could have done and/or communicated better to improve this relationship. However, it is important to also acknowledge that we have been through the worst economic period since the Great Depression. We are proud of the fact that during this period, we actually increased reserves, maintained important capital projects to improve our streets and other infrastructure, and maintained key service levels despite skyrocketing pension costs and plummeting revenues. This could not have been accomplished without some tough decisions and tough labor negotiations.

“During this time, the POA hired an attorney to represent them who was a partner with a law firm that posted on its website a “playbook” for negotiations. Among other questionable tactics, it advocated “public ridicule” of blunders by the city manager, mayor, and City Council. It also recommended to “focus on a city manager, councilperson, mayor or police chief and keep the pressure up until that person assures you his loyalty and then move on to the next victim.” They have since gone out of business amongst a variety of their own legal problems, but the POA has continued the services from the same attorney, now with a new firm.

“I am confident that our extraordinary and dedicated staff will carry on to do more great things for this wonderful community that I love so much. I believe my greatest legacy is the effective team we have assembled over the years and am extremely proud of all that they have accomplished. The state of the city’s infrastructure, finances, and economic vitality are at their highest level ever due to their hard work, the council’s leadership, and the community’s support and involvement. My wish is that my departure will remove this distraction and allow them to return their full focus to these important efforts. I cherish all my time serving the city of Arroyo Grande, I bear no ill will to anyone who has opposed me in this matter, and I hope everyone can now seek a new level of cooperation in addressing some major challenges ahead for our community. Meanwhile, I look forward to spending more time with my incredible family who has been so supportive of me throughout this ordeal and my life.”

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Since the AG leadership obviously doesn’t have one, here is a clue: They need to stop Adams and the mayor from filling the media with incendiary commentary. It really does nothing from further widening the breach between AG’s residents and its leadership.


so true


On the other hand, by giving them all this “rope” they are hanging themselves…and doing a beautiful job of it.

Like I said, I want this over, and them gone, but until that time I’m enjoying lampooning their every unbelievable action.

Party on!


The last thing we need is the cover up, scandal- tainted, lame-duck city manager to defile the process of the new city manager process.

Again, it is because of ethically bereft city managers like Adams that God gave us interim city managers.

Adams needs to go now. His scandal and cover up, along with the complicity of other officials involved in the cover up, has created a rift between our city’s leaders and our city’s residents.

If we are ever going to be able to start any kind of healing, it will be only after Adams is gone.

Every day that Adams remains in office delivers a slap in the face to every resident of AG.

We would all like to be able to put this behind us and move on.

Let’s hope AG’s leadership can see its way to GET WITH THE FREAKING PROGRAM and send Adams on his way before Adams completely alienates AG’s residents from AG’s leadership.


Seems to me that Mr. Adams is playing with his career at the expense of Arroyo Grande taxpayers.

I suspect that if he stays on this will allow him to apply for a new position without the baggage of “resigned” or “fired” statement drawing into question why, and therefore, having to explain these allegations.

I suspect that Mr. Adams may also have the benefit of getting another raise or better benefits, boasting his salary and benefitting him at his next place of employment to negotiate a better contract.

I suspect that Mr. Adams is gambling on Mr. Farraro winning the election and then assisting Mr. Adams thru the California League of Cities in getting a new position somewhere else in the State.

There has to be a benefit for Mr. Adams to stick around and not give a legitimate resignation. This is a scam on the taxpayers anyway you analysis it!


Remember that Tony Ferrara and Steve Adams both endorsed Caren Ray


Which is precisely why I will not vote for her……..


By that logic why vote for Harmon?


Did my response imply I was voting a specific way? I just said I wasn’t voting for Ray.


Harmon doesn’t endorse Tony Ferrara or Caren Ray


Which is a positive characteristic no doubt—-but I never confirmed I was voting a specific way—-that and we are talking about three different races here——not one.


she is the mayors choice , do some research


NO SHE IS NOT If she were Tony’s choice why did she not get the position in December, when Tony gave it to the airhead Kristen Barniech


if you believe that again do research reality is much different

look at republican pay book authored by Andrea seastrand and \

company most people believe what they want without doing research because it is easier and/ or they are lazy. Kristen follows Tony

as will Harmon, if you don’t believe it ask her to speak out regarding tonys past actions she wont do it


again, you are assuming I have not done my research—-and again, you should not assume this—–


put her to the test , or not good luck AG thanks for entertainment


again not assuming anything just commenting on doglovers post

not any post by you not every comment is about your post



I agree that the mayor is a pompous, addicted to power “human” with a below average IQ. He needs to go….Gomer Pyle Hill is not exactly the person that will lead a progressive, 2014 and beyond city to the promised land …but …who the hell would want this mess now anyways??? …so he will have to do…until he me$$e$ up!

Adams did a good job,got paid,made a mistake and resigned…IT’S A DONE DEAL CITIZENS OF MAYBERRY

The irony is THE ones leading this witch hunt are the same hypocritical creatures preaching forgiveness on Sundays..and/ or… the lonely senile few with 1 foot on a banana peel…

SO KIND PEOPLE ask for forgiveness tomorrow and turn the walker around… MOVE FORWARD


Guess I missed the part where Mr. Adams actually admitted to doing anything wrong, he has always maintained he never did anything wrong.

Please post the statement from Mr. Adams saying exactly what happened, what he did was wrong and that he is totally responsible. I know you will not for several reasons, but one is because it does not exist.

Plus, we are still waiting for Mr. Adams “real” resignation. Normally a resignation has an actually reasonable departure date, not a TBD, especially a TBD by the same person making the so called resignation.


I think this post is classic. Again with the hypocrisy. And again with the senility. I think it is sad that this issue has come to blows between people who should be working together to change the status quo. This isn’t a witch hunt. This is a group of citizens who are not happy with the current leadership and want to do something about it. If you are happy with the status quo, say so, but then leave your judgmental language out of it. You should do well to practice what you write. Are you saying that you are NOT a hypocrite? I find that hard to believe. It is also so easy to be so mean and judgmental when you hide behind a fake name and can remain anonymous. I would love to see you call me a hypocrite to my face and a member of this community senile to their face. I bet you wouldn’t be so bold and brave. Keep in mind, I am who I say I am. Have you?

And forgiveness my friend does not mean people can continue to do whatever they want. You would do well to read the letters of the apostle Paul in the New Testament. I can forgive what happened, but that doesn’t mean i have to be okay with it, and that certainly doens’t mean I need to put up with leadership lacking in standards. Maybe you can. I cannot and will not.

With that said, have a beautiful day.


Mr. Hill is not Gomer Pyle—and it is sad that you have to resort to name calling—-maybe that speaks to your level of IQ as well—–invest in a dictionary or thesaurus, and go get an education—-maybe you can then keep up with others on this post that do not need to rely on statements either children or uniformed adults would make.


I do not think he actually resigned. At best, he promised to resign in the future once his conditions were met.

We need to see his notice of resignation, officially accepted by the mayor and city council. Otherwise, all we have is Adams’ word on the matter, and we all know what his word is worth…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.


You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Abraham Lincoln


I like George Bush’s rendition better!


Mr Adams in many ways probably has been a good City Manager, and it it a shame that his career in AG will end on such a sour note, but he has no one to blame but himself.

While his staff may speak highly of him in public, many have known about the on goings of he and McClish for some time, and because of his position, have turned a blind eye in order to maintain a professional working environment.

The cover-up was not only stupid, it was illegal. Our city officials have been deceptive in their handling of this incident, resulting in a loss of trust from their constituents. They are elected to do the City’s business, and minimize our risk to litigation. Their actions have had the very opposite effect.

This isn’t a “can’t we all just get along on and move on” moment, this is a “lets find out who’s responsible for this debacle and hold them accountable” moment.

We don’t elect our officials to intentionally hide things from us, we expect our business to be transparent and above board.


Cry baby Steve needs to get OUT NOW!! Tony and Carmel should be right behind him.

They can share the cost of the porter to help them carry the boxes of tea out of city hall


And don’t forget that sofa, ewwwwwww…


Adams did a great job .Do you not recal the “city” prior to his employment?

It has improved dramatically for the better. The town now has charm and style with a design that actually makes sense. He has also managed a surplus during a rough recession. His staff speak highly of him and my dealings with him have been pleasant.

The incident was unfortunate and the “cover-up” was stupid…but…you got what you wanted…HE RESIGNED !!!

I take the high road as a tax paying ,home owner, younger than baby boomer AG resident.

Thank You Mr. Adams for all you did for this great little town and best wishes to you and your family in the future.

NOW can we please move on and go forward as a community without SO MUCH HATE?


Your right Mr.Adams did a lot of good things for Arroyo a Grande. What you don’t realize as a public official you could do a million great things but it takes one indiscretion, one lie, one wrong decision that can end your career. Mr. Adams knows this he is not a dumb person, he knows he can no longer keep his job. However, he left or is supposedly leaving after saying the arroyo grande police officers made this whole story up to get an enormous raise. From what I have read it doesn’t sound like they received a large raise compared to Mr. Adams raise. So it a nutshell a man that will not take responsibility for his mistakes should not be leading a city. And everyone can say that he was not caught in the act but many cheaters and crooks are not caught in the act that’s why investigations are conducted. A professional like him should not point fingers at the police we are expected to believe him over 5 police officers, and his claim is they put their careers on the line for a cheap raise. Mr. Adams is being childish by doing this any respect I had for him is out the door. A real professional would have said thank you for the time I have had leading Arroyo Grande and leave quietly. A guilty man continues to point fingers. And by the way if this is all made up by the police then why not sue the police or the union for slander or investigate them for lying. I will tell you why because they spoke the truth.


We got what we wanted?? No, not hardly.

If our council had been doing their job correctly, Mr Adams would have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, and then dealt with accordingly. We are angry with THEM for needing to be shamed into doing their duty.

NOW we need to know why, and who chose to handle this so poorly.


Hey Barney…

Adams got paid handsomely. It’s called doing the job he was hired to do.


And then he got caught with his (insert choice of body parts) in the cookie nookie jar. His choice. Cover up and lie, instead of manning up. He brought this on himself, no one else to blame, except in his case the entire police department. We can move on once he moves on. The sooner the better.

How interesting that you chose barneyfife for your profile name. Someone who perhaps is angry with the police??? Hmmmm….


I will remind you that taking the high road does not include name calling—–but, well, we’ve covred that—and you are the one spreading hate. Our group seriously just wants new leadership—-you are looking at this from a very shallow perspective.


Really, he resigned? What proof do we have for that claim? His word? Bwaa-ha-ha!

What other scandals and cover-ups has he.been involved in? It is hard to believe this is his first one, especially since the mayor has been so feverishly eager to join in the cover up.


the current political climate is wedge politics sad but true because it works,

there were huge mistakes made by Adams the mayor and your council but not nearly as tragic as a parent losing a child. or conflict overseas folks in AG need to get some perspective Thanks for taking the high road regardless of your politics the world needs more people like you


the current political climate is about wedge politics sad but true people need to get some perspective AG;s mayor city council and city manager made huge mistakes but that pales in comparison to a parent losing a child or all the conflict overseas taking the high road is not always easy but still the right thing to do. This too shall pass ,

anyone who has kids go home and hug them tight that is so much more important than what is going on in your little town